Pope makes 'heartfelt appeal' to preserve 'status quo' in Jerusalem

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Pope Francis has urged U.S. President Donald Trump to respect Jerusalem's status ahead of his expected announcement to recognize the city as Israel's capital on Wednesday.

The pope made the appeal during his weekly audience in Vatican city after speaking with the Palestinian leader and Palestinian religious and intellectual representatives in a previously scheduled audience.

Pope Francis said he was "profoundly concerned" about recent developments, and declared Jerusalem a unique and sacred place for Christians, Jews and Muslims that has a "special vocation for peace".

"At the same time, I appeal strongly for all to respect the city's status quo, in accordance with the relevant United Nations resolutions", the pope said, in his weekly address.

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His appeal is clearly addressed to President Donald J. Trump, who will reportedly declare today that the United States recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and will move its embassy from Tel Aviv to the Holy City in a reversal of nearly seven decades of US foreign policy.

"My thought now goes to Jerusalem".

The pope told thousands of people at his general audience: "I can not keep quiet about my deep worry about the situation that has been created in the last few days".

The US' plan to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital has drawn criticism from a number of world leaders who fear it would further escalate regional tensions.

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He said he hoped "wisdom and prudence prevail, in order to avoid adding new elements of tension to a global panorama that is already convulsed and marked by so many and cruel conflicts".

The Holy See recognized the Palestinian state in 2015. According to the BBC, the United States would be the first nation to formally recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel since the nation was founded in 1948.

Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, former Vatican envoy to the U.N.in Geneva, said any move away from the Status Quo in Jerusalem "could have unforeseen consequences".

He noted how his November 27-30 visit to Burma marked the first time a Pope has ever traveled to the country, which took place just months after the Holy See established full diplomatic relations with the nation in May.

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"I wished, also in this case, to express Christ's and the Church's closeness to a people that have suffered due to conflicts and repressions and are now slowly moving toward a new condition of freedom and peace", Francis said. 2 visit to Bangladesh was equally important, and focused largely on the need for "respect and dialogue" between Christianity and Islam, as the country is a majority Muslim nation with a small Catholic community.

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